Shallow Grave (1994)

I’d actually forgotten about this movie.  A friend asked me if I’d ever seen it, and I couldn’t remember much about it except the general storyline, seeing it in middle school and thinking, “This movie rocks!” I’m glad to see it’s held up over the years.  Shallow Grave is a story about betrayal and greed.  What else should you expect from your friends?

Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting), Shallow Grave lets us into the lives of Alex (Ewan McGregor), David (Christopher Eccleston) and Juliet (Kerry Fox); three friends who are looking for a new roommate to share their Glasgow flat. They find what they’re looking for in Hugo. He’s a dodgy kind of guy, but they can tolerate him, and it doesn’t hurt that he can actually afford the place. All is well, until Hugo isn’t seen for days. The three decide to break into his room, where they find him dead, and that suitcase he was carrying? It’s full of money. Now they are faced with a question I’m sure plenty of people would think of, even if it were only in passing…do they keep the money?

This movie is mostly psychological thriller with some seriously realistic and implied violence thrown in. Writer John Hodge puts together a tight, tension-building piece of work. From the very start of the film you can tell that these flat mates don’t trust, love or care about each other in any real way. They’re the kind of people that most of us would stay away from.  So, of course they find themselves in a situation that requires the kind of trust that real friends have.  It’s a ticking time bomb situation and you can tell that when things go bad, they’re going to go deliciously bad.  There’s not one missed step in Shallow Grave. Danny Boyle’s direction adds weight to the tension in one scene he shows us a wind up baby doll strolling along happily, totally unaware that it’s about to take a tumble down a long flight of stairs.  These characters have no clue what’s in store for them. It’s amazing what some people will lie to themselves about, what people may do, when a couple million pounds are on the table.

The acting is unbeatable here, Ewan McGregor in his first role with Danny Boyle, shows the kind of potential that he hasn’t fully explored as of this date.  Most impressive is Christopher Eccleston whose been seen recently on Heroes.

Shallow Grave runs around 93 minutes, but it feels longer IN A GOOD WAY. As soon as I was put into this world, I wanted to get to the end to see what was going to happen. I felt this way despite having seen it before and that says a lot.  I’m giving Shallow Grave a big recommendation, it’s an older movie, but it delivers on the chills. Well worth the drive to the video store.